In less than ten minutes, Allstate Insurance Company’s three-man Stripped in Seconds team can turn a car or truck into an empty shell and a pile of parts. The real bad guys can do it even faster. In a series of chop shop demonstrations taking place across the country, Allstate is illustrating how quickly a thief can turn a vehicle into sellable parts that often are worth more than the vehicle as whole.
It can take an expert auto thief as little as seven seconds and one screwdriver to break into a vehicle, and less than one minute to drive away. According to Allstate, many of the most commonly stolen cars are snatched for their parts – not the joyrides seen on TV or in the movies. The insurer says the top targets for thieves are often reliable vehicles that ride the roads longer. The car or truck’s dependability means they don’t end up in salvage yards and spare parts can be more difficult to find – creating a black market for thieves looking to profit from potentially pricy spare parts.
“A car is stolen every thirty-three seconds in the United States and common sense could keep many of these thefts from happening,” said Mike Roche, Allstate Senior Vice President for Claims. “Thieves look for easy targets. Your vehicle is one of the biggest investments you will make and you should be sure to take the steps necessary to protect your vehicle.”
Allstate says it saw a decline in the number of unrecovered auto thefts in 2009. The insurer now says its time for consumers to help close the door on car thieves.
Seven Simple Steps
The company says the following seven suggestions may seem like common sense but they’re proven to help prevent theft.
Lock your car and take your keys – One out of every five vehicles stolen had the keys in it, and almost half of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.
Consider VIN etching – Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) can easily be etched on windows, doors, fenders and other car parts. This makes it difficult for a thief to market your stolen car parts.
Don’t hide a second set of keys in your car – Extra keys can easily be found if a thief takes time to look.
Park in high foot traffic, well-lighted areas – This is a deterrent to would-be thieves, and thieves do not like witnesses and often prefer unattended, unlit parking lots.
Roll up your windows – Always roll up your windows and lock the car, even if it is parked in front of your home.
Don’t leave your car running unattended – Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATM’s, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm up.
Hide your valuables – Don’t make your car a more desirable target for thieves by leaving valuables in plain sight.
Allstate also adds that drivers should make sure they have the proper insurance coverages in the event they find themselves a victim of auto theft. Auto theft is covered under the comprehensive section of an auto insurance policy. If your vehicle is stolen, report it to the police immediately.